Repo Chick Blues is a taut, edgy ebook that’s been dubbed “tough chick lit” but shouldn’t be restricted to the female reading market. Leah Ryan is a character that sizzles.
With an unwillingness to flee in the face of danger and the guts to let her survival instincts take over and do what needs to be done, Leah leads the reader on one hell of a journey. She’s one of the most intriguing, well-rounded female protagonists I’ve read precisely because of her shady past. This ebook marks a solid debut offering for author Tracy Sharp and I look forward to seeing where Leah will go next, as well as watching Tracy Sharp grow as a writer and storyteller and hopefully into a deal with a good publisher that will see her work make it to store shelves.
Where did the idea for Repo Chick Blues come from?
I was watching a TV reality show about auto recovery agents and was struck by
the fact that there were no female recovery agents. I started wondering what
it would be like for a woman in such a dangerous job. I wondered what (her) personality
would be like, and what kind of past she would've had to draw her to such a job.
Repo men in this reality show all seemed to be adrenaline freaks. They thrived
on intensity and danger, needed to be in high-risk situations. I was intrigued,
and Leah Ryan was born.
How did you get your deal with Liquid Silver Books?
I love epublishers because they are edgy and push the envelope. I'd been watching
the market pretty closely for two years, and was struck by how many epublished
authors were being offered deals by the large NY publishing houses:
Mary Janice Davidson, Cheyenne McCray, Jaci Burton and Jaid Black are just a
few off the top of my head. Also, several authors who are with traditional publishers
are turning to epublishers to publish work that doesn’t fit within the
parameters of what their traditional publishers put out. I thought this was pretty
I also noticed that most large publishing houses had followed the epublishers
into the erotic fiction market. They’ve taken notice how well Ellora's
Cave and Liquid Silver Books are doing and have launched not only one erotic
fiction line, but in some cases, several.
I'd been told by several agents that they loved Repo Chick Blues. They loved
Leah. They loved my writing style. They loved the concept. But they didn't know
how to market me, and were going to stay with what was currently selling well.
I understand this. Publishing is a business, after all. But following the market
is slippery slope for any writer, as the market changes so fast. So I instead
decided to go where my book would fit in.
So I researched epublishers and really liked what Liquid Silver was doing. I
sent them a query and a partial of Repo Chick Blues and the rest is history!
How do you plot your books?
I used to just start with a vague idea and a character or two, and away I would
go. But when I began writing Repo Chick Blues I realized I needed to do a lot
of research into the world of auto recovery agents. The research ended up leading
the direction of the book in many ways.
Finding Chloe is a mystery, and mysteries are very structured. I bought a copy
of Carolyn Wheat's How to Write Killer Fiction and that became my bible. Excellent
Writing a mystery was tricky and challenging for me because I'm a character driven
writer, but mysteries are plot driven. So I needed to fit the story into the
structure. Although at the time I wanted to shriek and tear my hair out, that
structure saved my butt on several occasions because it kept me from going off
on tangents, as I'm apt to do.
I began with down jotting ideas as they came to me in a spiral notebook, but
it was too linear. So I began using a program called Microsoft Visio, which allows
me to create bubbles on the page, write the idea inside of them, and drag them
around as I need to. Same idea as using post-it notes or note cards. This method
is wonderful for when you need to write your synopsis, because all your main
plot points are all there for you.
Which authors have had the greatest impact on your writing and why?
Stephen King for sure. I spent the most of my youth and into my late twenties
reading him. He has such an insight into the way people think and react with
and to one another. He taught me that story is first, above all else. Just tell
the story, you can fix everything else afterward.
After him, Patricia Cornwell, my first journey into reading first person. Post
Mortem is one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read, and it’s one
of my favorites. She really scared the hell out of me. She also taught me that
you can write as if you’re having a conversation with the reader, and it
really works if it’s done well.
Dennis Lehane, my all time favorite. He’s the one I go back and re-read
a couple of times a year. I love all of his stuff, but his Patrick/Angie series
is my favorite. I’d never read private eye fiction until him, and I fell
in love with it after reading A Drink Before the War. I ate up everything he
wrote after that. He taught me character.
Lee Child. Fantastic action thrillers. Absolutely phenomenal. He’s one
of those writers I’m in complete awe with. I learned pacing from him, and
to not pull punches. I’m still working on the not pulling punches thing.
I could probably go on forever but those are the biggies for me.
You work full-time.
How did you squeeze in the time for writing?
I grab as much time after work as I can to write, but mostly I'm a weekend writer.
I get up early and start the laundry and write in between loads, cleaning the
bathroom and vacuuming. While I'm cleaning I'm still thinking of the story, and
often I'm able to solve plot problems while I'm sweeping or scrubbing out the
bathtub. If I have nothing to work around I tend to waste time, so having to
make time for writing works for me.How similar is Tracy Sharp to Leah Ryan?
Oh wow. I’m actually a little scared to answer that question! There are
many character traits I share with Leah. We both have the same sense of humor
and we share the same concern for certain social issues. Both Leah and I hate
exploitation of those who are vulnerable. But she is far more courageous than
I can ever dream to be! I think Leah is who I’d love to be if I were brave
enough. We’re both kind of screwed up.
What's next for Leah Ryan?
I've written a sequel to Repo Chick Blues called Finding Chloe. It's a mystery
and was challenging to write, but it turned out better than I thought it would.
I'm just now at the beginning phase of fleshing out an idea for the third Leah
book, which at this point I think will deal with the baby black market. That
may change, though.
If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only have one character from
Repo Chick Blues there with you, who would it be and why?
That one is easy. Leah’s dog Buddy, of course!
But if you mean a human character, then I’d definitely choose Jack. I love
Jack. He’s the best friend I’ve always wanted to have. He’s
tough, funny, fiercely protective of and loyal to his friends. He’s also
really resourceful. He’d find a way to hook us up with whatever we’d
need. He just rocks. In fact I really miss him when I’m not writing him.
I guess I’ve got a little crush on him, which is pretty bizarre, considering
that he is never Leah’s love interest.
You write tough, edgy, action-packed stories. If Repo Chick Blues was going to
be made into a film, who do you think would be the perfect actress for the part?
Good question. I like to dream. I loved Charlize Theron as the kick-ass heroine
in Aeon Flux. She’s an amazing actress, as she demonstrated in Monster,
and she’s so versatile. She knows how to be tough and still be feminine.
I think I’d choose her.
You have two short stories in this issue of Spinetingler. Do you enjoy writing
short stories or do you find them harder than your manuscripts?
I started off just writing short stories. An old friend of mine persuaded me
to try writing a full-length book. The result was a massive horror novel, too
horrible even for me to look at anymore. Twisted story. Wow. I don’t even
know where it came from. It’s lurking on my hard drive, not meant for public
viewing. But I’m grateful for that first book because I made a ton of mistakes
writing it, and I learned from those mistakes. I hope, anyway.
Now I find it easier to write a full-length book because you have more room to
move. With a short story you have only so many pages to tell your story. I still
enjoy writing them, though, and sometimes if I’m feeling stuck in a book
I’ll take a break and write a short story. Helps to freshen me up.